This was first published, without the photo, on 5 March 2010
If I could, I would send all of you the magic words that would change your life to what you wish it to be. I don't have those magic powers, all I can do is write what I know and hope that the way you understand those words helps you towards a better life. The best I can do today is to say: slow down. I received an email from a reader saying that she wanted the kind of life I'm living but doesn't know how to go about it. I wrote back to ask if she'd read the 2007 parts of the blog where I write about budgeting, paying down debt, housework, gardening, slowing down and being at home. That explains how I came to this life and the closest thing I've written to the kind of guide she was looking for. She wrote back asking if I could condense it for her.
No, I can't.
Everyone who reads here can take what they need from what I write, but what I hope everyone gets is that we all have to take the time to slow down and at every opportunity, add value to our day. I add value to my hours by knitting, gardening, reading, sitting, talking, listening, watching and being still. We can all carry out the tasks of a simple home and live a more simple life by cooking from scratch, sewing and mending, making green cleaners, baking and gardening. That's the easy bit, although it takes persistence and the energy to do it every day. The more difficult bit is to connect the dots and to make those simple tasks mean something to you so you enjoy doing those tasks on a daily basis. The way I do that is to slow down, think about why I'm working in a particular way and to consciously enjoy what I'm doing. Sewing isn't just sewing, cooking isn't just combining ingredients in a pan, I think about why I'm sewing, who I'm sewing for and how I can make it special, not just for them but for me too. I feel the fabric, admire the colour combinations and take my time. I don't want to rush anything. I want the act of sewing to add value to my day.
There are no condensed versions of a slower and simpler life. You have to live the full measure of it. It is a life-long process - a journey with no end. If you look for short cuts you will short change yourself because the point is not to get to the end fast or with more chickens or loaves of bread baked, it's to enjoy the journey.